Round Robin 2 Press Point
ROUND ROBIN 2 PRESS POINT Auckland, November 5, 2002
At the close of Round Robin 2, Michel Bonnefous and Russell Coutts, Executive Directors of Team Alinghi, met with representatives of the International Press based here in Auckland.
Here is a condensed transcript of the subjects dealt with during this press conference.
OVERVIEW OF ROUND ROBIN 2
Russell Coutts: "I get the feeling that what we've seen so far is a little like the preseason in lots of other sports. The Challengers have been sailing against each other and getting to know each other and there's a lot of improvement left in many of the teams. For the quarter finals we're coming to more intense racing and more even matches." Our entire team has also learnt that we must pay more attention to the possibility of equipment failure. It is an area we obviously have to improve in the future and we will rely on our very skilled maintenance team."
The departure of Mascalzone Latino.
Russell Coutts: "Obviously it was a disappointment to see Mascalzone Latino depart the scene. They are a great team -with great spirit, and we were sad to see them go. I hope we'll see them back - there's nothing like the school of hard knocks to reinforce lessons and to help them come back stronger."
Sailing conditions for the races
Russell Coutts: "I also hope we can see the boats racing in stronger winds as even the current boats are designed to race in 20kts breeze. At this stage, we still need practice racing in these conditions, as I'm sure others do. Quite honestly as a sailing challenge and as a spectacle there's nothing like racing these boats in stronger winds."
Sailing team program before the quarter-finals
Michel Bonnefous: "Now we will be back on the water training until the Quarter Finals, mainly focusing on such things as the pre-start and our manoeuvres in general as well as some speed testing. We were able to take 2 days rest to relax a little at the end of the RR2 with hopefully another day off before the next round begins."
What has Team Alinghi proved as leader in the competition so far?
Michel Bonnefous: "We've proved to ourselves that we have 2 highly competitive boats, that our equipment is up to standard and that our whole team is well managed and organized. What does that prove for later on? Probably not much, because now the event really starts. There have been a few occasions, for example in 1987, where the early performer in the Louis Vuitton cup didn't go on to win, so we're all conscious of that. We have to keep working on improvements across the board and changing the boat where necessary. The racing so far has given us some ideas of areas where we could improve.
ALINGHI VS PRADA IN THE QUARTER FINALS
Michel Bonnefous: "Picking our opponent for the Quarter Finals was not an easy decision. We discussed with the designers and the sailors to identify the best choice for Alinghi. Essentially we have 2 reasons for choosing Prada. Firstly, we want to get an early indication of the changes made to their boat and secondly we chose to face a team in the process of change. We all know it is difficult to change a boat and to be focused on the water."
"We are looking forward to having a European pairing for the quarter-final, and we hope there will be good media coverage but this was not a factor in opting to race Prada."
Russell Coutts: "We're looking forward to racing Prada. They're a strong team with a new international look this time. Our whole team is going to be interested as to the effects the modifications on their boat will have. In changing a boat as they are, there is a limit on the time available for testing and you are more reliant on the weather during the testing period between racing. Concentrating on one aspect of development also means less time spent on other aspects of the programme. Obviously choosing a team capable of great change is also a risk for us and in terms of resources Prada are capable of carrying out their changes well. We are also contemplating making alterations to our own boat and depending on what we see on the water may influence those decisions"
Which boat will Alinghi be using?
Russell Coutts: "We will make a decision on which boat to use next Monday. We're very comfortable with SUI64 so far but we'll be doing more testing with the boats and the rigs this week and will make the final call after that."
Will Ernesto Bertarelli be back for the quarter-final?
Michel Bonnefous: "Yes, Ernesto will be back."
Alinghi, Challenge for the America's Cup 2003, is flying the Swiss flag, and carrying the colours of the Société Nautique de Genève. UBS, Infonet, Audemars-Piguet and Riri are its proud sponsors.